Living in Dubai, I am constantly surrounded by Islamic forms of art. Even many of the futuristic looking skyscrapers that grace the city’s skyline are modern interpretations of Islamic architecture. Calligraphy, geometric patterns, domes and arches abound, and one never has to look too far to find wonderful examples of these art forms.
As many of you know, I am a keen flaneur and iphoneographer who enjoys wandering and taking photos of Dubai’s architecture when the weather permits. With the heat outside on the increase at the moment, my outdoor expeditions are becoming a bit limited. A trip to take some photographs of the Wafi Mall the other morning, found me hastily looking for some shade.
iPhone in hand, I found myself in an interesting outdoor passageway. I was struck by the light and the different inner and outer arches. The pointed arch so typical of Islamic architecture caught my eye especially. Out came my recently acquired olloclip, and this picture was the result using the fisheye lens:
Today when I looked at the photograph, I noticed how my recent reading was undoubtedly influencing the way I was viewing the image. The circle hinted at by the fisheye effect was a reminder of a wholeness within which the contents of the image appeared to be enfolded. At the same time the distorted effect of the closest arch made it appear to be coming towards me, a reminder that it was unfolding from the space in which it was contained.
Excited by the fact that with all the photo apps available to us now I could edit this image I set to work. My editing is done intuitively and I choose various apps according to what I feel will suit the photo at hand. Using the apps decim8, image blender and snapseed, and after four steps in the edit, this was the result:
Upon closer inspection you will notice that the image is not entirely symmetrical. Certain sections are, but they stand alongside the asymmetry to be found in the overall image, adding to its enchantment in my opinion. The image, filled with color, light and shadow, hints at volume but also at void.
The pointed arch in the middle, so typical of Islamic architecture, invites me to enter the passageway. At the same time, however, it allows me to slip around it to explore the surrounds.
I have been reading about Baroque art and how in this art form with its many scenes flowing into each other and almost into the space of the viewer, the viewer determined the centre of the spectacle at any moment in time. This centre was constantly shifting depending on the viewer’s focus. My image reminded me of this.
How Baroque-like cyberspace is. We are able to enter various streams, whether they be of words, sounds or images. Each tweet, for example, brings a part of you and your point of view right onto my screen. Your here is brought to my here via the interface of my screen, in itself an electronic stained glass work of art. I can choose to focus on your tweet, follow its links if they are there, or reflect upon what has been said. I can also skim over it and many others until something in particular captures my attention and focus.
However, unlike in Baroque art, we are connecting in the digital world not with forms and figures on a dome but with real people. The fact that I am able to receive an immediate response to my posting from others all over the world in this polycentric environment adds a collective dimension to the whole event and is bringing about a level of interconnectedness not imagined before.
At one stage I wanted to call this blog “DIgital Baroque”, only to discover that a book by that name already exists! This discovery just added to my musings. Perhaps all ideas exist enfolded in potential, and at different times and in different places unfold to make themselves known to those who can hear them.
I have decided to take the edited image above and work with it further in the weeks to come. I will post the results on Instagram and add them to a gallery on this website. As I live in Dubai in the Middle East I want the resulting edits to reflect the region but to also have a global appeal. I wish to discover all that this image has to tell me. It is my wish too that the images will encourage viewers to open themselves to new perspectives, hold multiple perspectives simultaneously, shift focus where necessary, drop some of the boundaries that limit their vision, and open themselves to others as well as to creative potential.